If you are a fan of Busan in South Korea, it wouldn’t be too hard to answer the following two questions: what is the most recognized landmark in Busan? And, where can you see it from? The answers are Gwangan Bridge (Gwangandaegyo) and Gwangalli Beach. Now we are going to visit these two popular spots.
219, Gwanganhaebyeon-ro, Suyeong-gu, Busan, South Korea
> Gwangalli Beach: Free
> Gwangan Bridge: Compact Cars – ₩500 / Mid-sized vehicles – ₩1,000 / Large vehicles – ₩1,500 (Discounted rate during commuting time: weekdays 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. / 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.)
> Subway: Line 2 (Green Line). Get off at Geumryeonsan station (금련산/210), Exit 1 or 3 > About 600 meters walk (2000 feet)
> Bus: No. 41 or 42. Get off at Gwangalli Haesuyokjang (광안리 해수욕장/Gwangalli Beach) bus stop
Paid public parking available near Gwangalli Beach (Suyeong-gu Gwangan Public Parking and Millak Waterside Park Public Parking)
Gwangalli Beach – The View Can’t Get Better Than This
There are seven beaches in Busan, South Korea. Although all of them have their own unique charm and beauty, I have to admit that they are not recognized by visitors at the same level. Gwangalli Beach had been under the shadow of Haeundae Beach for a long time, but since Gwangan Bridge was completed, it has been one of the most popular beaches not only in Busan but also in South Korea. According to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, this popular beach was the third most visited beach in South Korea in 2019 with over 12 million visitors.
Gwangalli Beach is 1.4 km long and more than 300 trendy cafes and restaurants are lined along the beach. In the nighttime, the lights at Gwangan Bridge make the view from the beach unforgettable. Busking performers play music along the beach and you can’t help feeling romantic. In order to make the beach a better place for visitors and locals, smoking is not allowed over the whole beach area.
Instagrammable Gwangalli Beach
As I mentioned above, Gwangalli Beach is famous for trendy cafes with breathtaking views of Gwangan Bridge. Thanks to the growing popularity of social media such as Instagram and YouTube, these hip cafes have attracted people from all over South Korea and even international influencers. In addition to these hot cafes and restaurants, Gwangalli Beach recently has been inviting more visitors with a variety of marine sports like jet boats, bandwagons, paddle boats, and windsurfing, just to name a few.
By any chance, do you feel familiar with Gwangalli Beach and Gwangan Bridge? If you are a fan of Marvel Studio movies, I am not surprised that you recognize the area. Gwangalli area and Gwangan Bridge are filming locations for Black Panther.
Gwangalli Beach was once a fishing town and it was not originally considered as a beach for summer visitors. Thus, the residential areas are very close to the beach. In fact, some communities are adjacent to the beach unlike Haeundae Beach. Thanks to this, many locals love to stroll, run, or walk their dogs along the promenade. Gwangalli Themed Street with street art installation along the beach makes the walk more joyful.
Gwangan Bridge (Gwangandaegyo or Diamond Bridge)
Gwangan Bridge (Gwangandaegyo) is South Korea’s longest double-deck bridge with a length of 7.42 km (4.6 miles), connecting Centum City in Haeundae-gu and Namcheon-dong in Suyeong-gu. Diamond Bridge is another name of the landmark although I haven’t seen many Busanites call the bridge by that name.
The bridge is open only for vehicles so no pedestrians are allowed. However, you can walk on the bridge at some special occasions or events. Diamond Bridge Walking Festival is an annual event that the bridge is open to participants. Also, on New Year’s Day, the bridge’s upper deck is open to the public so people can enjoy the very first sunrise of the year with a phenomenal view. The view from the bridge embraces a complete scenery from Oryukdo Islands through Gwangalli Beach and Dongbaekseom Island to Dalmaji Hill in Haeundae.
While watching Busan from Gwangan Bridge is fantastic, watching the bridge is another wonderful experience. Gwangan Bridge is simply beautiful during the daytime, but it gets even better in the nighttime. The bridge is decorated with more than 7,000 LED lights and these lights can create more than a hundred thousand colors. Just be aware that the lights go out at 1 a.m. during the regular period. It delays to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday night and every night in July and August.
In addition, the bridge becomes a perfect background during the famous Busan Fireworks Festival. There are more than one reason why CNN chose this impressive structure as one of 50 beautiful places to visit in South Korea.
The city of Busan completed the Gwangan Bridge in December 2002. It’s a toll road and the upper deck directs from Centum City to Namcheon-dong and the lower deck in the opposite direction. Interestingly, the upper deck is under jurisdiction of Haeundae-gu and Haeundae PD while the lower deck is under Suyeong-gu and Nambu PD.
If you want to drive over Gwangan Bridge but you don’t own a car or can’t rent one, try Bus No. 1006 or 1011. They are only two bus routes that go over the bridge.
Festivals at Gwangalli Beach
Busan Fireworks Festival
Busan Fireworks Festival is one of the largest fireworks festivals in South Korea. More than one million spectators visit Gwangalli Beach to see the event every year. Every fall, the fireworks get synchronized with music and laser lights, and the whole combination creates unforgettable sceneries over Gwangan Bridge. Besides Gwangalli Beach, you can watch the fireworks from Igidae, Hwangryeongsan Mountain, Dongbaek Island, and a few more locations.
Gwangalli Eobang Festival
Gwangalli Eobang Festival is an annual festival in April celebrating the regional tradition that historically encouraged a strong relationship between navy and fishermen. The word, ‘Eobang,’ was a fishing community combining those two groups. The festival features a variety of events such as musicals, parades, guard changing ceremony, concerts and more.
Busan Sea Festival
Busan Sea Festival takes place at Gwangalli Beach and other majors beaches. The locations include Haeundae Beach, Songdo Beach, Dadaepo Beach, Songjoeng Beach, Ilgwang Beach, and Suyeongman Bay Yacht Marina. The festival starts every first day of August and it lasts until 9th of the same month.
The festival is a party for Koreans and international visitors altogether. Every year the festival enlivens visitors with concerts, marine sports activities, summer night fireworks, and more.
In Near Gwangalli Beach
If you are a fan of raw fish or seafood, or if you are willing to try them, Millak Hoe Town and Millak Waterside Park are the right destinations for you. They are located on the east side of Gwangalli Beach. If the weather allows, purchase hoe (raw fish) and other seafood at Millak Hoe Town, go to Milak Waterside Park right across the street and eat them there. It would be a memorable experience eating fresh seafood while watching the splendid Marine City skyline under the dark blue ocean sky.
If you are visiting Gwangalli Beach during springtime, don’t forget to check out Cherry Blossom Street at Samik Beach Apartment Complex in Namcheon-dong. It’s located on the west side of Gwangalli Beach, the opposite side of Millak Waterside Park. The place has been on the list of the best Cherry Blossom spots in Busan for a long time. Unfortunately, the complex will go under construction soon, and we don’t know if all the cherry blossom trees will be preserved. So hurry if you want to walk under the famous cherry blossom tunnel.